October 26, 2013 11:27:16 PM
The Columbus Municipal School District plans to hire two additional armed security guards thanks to a matching grant provided by the Mississippi Department of Education.
The school district, which already has four armed school resource officers, received approval for the Mississippi Community Oriented Policing Services grant Thursday. The $60,000 grant will provide the salaries of two additional school resource officers. Those officers will be placed in the middle schools and high schools, according to deputy superintendent Craig Shannon.
"As we continue to find ways to enhance student safety, this grant will help students and parents feel better about the educational process," Shannon said. "Additional officers will be placed at the middle and high schools. The district has already advertised for the positions with hopes of securing applicants to present to the Board of Trustees in November."
Superintendent Edna McGill explained that the grant funds were approved in the recent legislative session.
"During the 2013 legislative session, Section 37-3-82 Mississippi Code of 1972, established the Mississippi Community Oriented Policing Services Grant for the utilization of school resource officers (SRO) within the K-12 education system," McGill said. "The bill allocates $10,000 per officer to pay the salary and benefits of school resource officers. The funding must be matched from local funds on a 50/50 matching basis. Fifty districts in Mississippi were awarded the MCOPS grant ranging from $10,000 to $180,000t. The purpose of the grant is to promote and provide a safe and orderly environment for student learning and foster an attitude of respect and compliance with the law among the student body as a whole."
McGill said CMSD was the first district in the state to have police officers in the schools and said the district continues to take a proactive approach to student safety.
"Columbus Municipal School District has been on the forefront of leadership in fostering safe school environments," McGill said. "We want to continue that trend. With the increased emphasis on school safety, CMSD wants to take a proactive approach and increase our ability to provide the most safe school environment possible for our children."
Officials with the Lowndes County School District said they did not apply for the grant because they have a full time sheriff's deputy on each campus in addition to school resource officers.
112 other school districts in the state also declined the grant money.
Sarah Fowler covered crime, education and community related events for The Dispatch.
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